Controlling LED Lights

Published : 2015-01-28 00:00:43
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Controlling LED Lights

So you have some bright shiny new LED lights, and now you want to dim them to set the mood. Or maybe you want to set your RGB installation up to run some dazzling shows or subtle transitions. But what is the best way to control them? There are a vast number of control protocols that are actively used in LED lighting, each with its own advantages and disadvantages that make them well suited to certain applications, but ultimately, they can be broken into 2 categories; Analogue control and Digital control.

Know What You Want

As already mentioned, most methods for controlling LEDs are suited to particular applications. To select the best method for your installation, it is important to know what you want to achieve.

  1. Are you dimming white light (such as Digilin's ICON range of LED downlights), or mixing red, green and blue (achievable using Digilin's Harlequin RGB LED strip)?
  2. Is it just a few lights, or a large number over a large area?
  3. Will all the LED light fittings be dimmed/mixed together or do you want individual control?
  4. If you are mixing RGB, is it to create a static colour, or a constantly changing colour sequence?

If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way.

Know What You Have

Almost as important as knowing what you want to achieve, is knowing what you already have. If you are installing into a building with some automatic lighting control already present, then surely it will make sense that your new LED lights should also be controlled by it. Also keep in mind that most of these control methods require additional data cables which could be an issue if you are installing into an existing building.

Analogue Control Methods

There are two common analogue control methods used within the LED lighting industry. These are 0-10V and triac phase dimmers (which is how standard incandescent bulbs are dimmed). Analogue control in general is lower cost than digital methods.

Digital Control Methods

There are two main digital control protocols used for LED lighting, however there are also many, many proprietary control systems. These can have various selling points, such as being wireless or using powerline communications, meaning there are no data cables, a particularly good user interface or perhaps simply its price point. Keep in mind though, if you opt for one of these proprietary systems, you will most likely be locked into a single supplier.

Digilin, uses only the most common (and industry standard) protocols of DALI ((Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) and DMX512.

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